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UPDATE 2-French wheat export forecast raised amid Ukraine corridor uncertainty

(Recasts with comments and details from news conference)

By Sybille de La Hamaide and Gus Trompiz

PARIS, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Farm office FranceAgriMer on Wednesday raised its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the European Union, now seen 15% above last season, but said sales would depend on whether a Ukrainian grain export corridor was extended.

Soft wheat shipments outside the 27-member bloc are now seen at 10.1 million tonnes, up from 10.0 million in July, FranceAgriMer said in a cereal supply and demand outlook.

France, the EU's biggest wheat producer, recorded a small drop in output this year after drought but benefited from hefty demand over the summer as war in Ukraine disrupted Black Sea exports.

"There remains, however, some uncertainty for the rest of the campaign due to the conflict in Ukraine," Paul Le Bideau of FranceAgriMer's grains unit told reporters.

A deal on the corridor that allows Ukraine to ship grains out of the Black Sea is set to expire in late November.

In contrast, the office cut its forecast French soft wheat exports within the 27-member bloc this season to 7.07 million tonnes from 7.13 million previously, now 12% below 2021/22.

It reduced its projection for French soft wheat stocks by the end of the season next June to 2.13 million tonnes from the 2.36 million projected last month, mainly due to a reduced harvest estimate issued on Tuesday by the farm ministry.

Forecast use of wheat in starch was reduced by 55,000 tonnes to 2.7 million tonnes, now down 2% on the year, to take account of high gas prices weighing on the energy-intensive industry, it said.

In first 2022/23 forecasts for maize, FranceAgriMer estimated French ending stocks at 2.01 million tonnes, compared with 2.23 million tonnes at the end of the previous season.

The fall was linked to a sharp drop in supplies, with harvest supply expected to fall by 30% this season, which would outweigh a 39% fall in exports, both within and outside the EU.

The French maize harvest this year is expected to be the smallest in three decades, as exceptionally hot and dry summer weather damaged crops.

For barley, projected 2022/23 ending stocks were increased again and are now seen at 1.77 million tonnes versus 1.66 million last month, mainly due to an increased estimate of harvest supply and a further cut to forecast shipments outside the EU. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide and Gus Trompiz, editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)

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